THE Queen has handed out commemorative Maundy coins for the 60th time as she undertook the pre-Easter tradition in Sheffield Cathedral.
Thousands of people were waiting outside the city centre cathedral when the Queen arrived by car with the Duke of Edinburgh for the ancient ceremony.
Wearing a turquoise Stewart Parvin cashmere coat with a black velvet collar over a floral silk dress, she handed out two purses to each of the 89 men and 89 women who made up this year’s recipients.
The Royal Maundy was traditionally about giving alms to poor pensioners.
Today’s recipients are recommended by the Church for their service to the community.
The number chosen reflects the monarch’s age.
Writing in The Yorkshire Post today, the Bishop of Sheffield, Steven Croft said the “very simple action” would be at the heart of the special service.
He said: “All the recipients gathered in the Cathedral a couple of weeks ago for the Maundy Lecture. I’ve never know the Cathedral to be so full of joy. Everyone I spoke to was surprised, but delighted, to be nominated.
“The Lord High Almoner told us that the Maundy is the only honour in our national life where the Queen comes to the recipient: she not only travels to Sheffield but also moves within the service to each person to make her gift – a moment we will never forget.”
It will be the first time the Royal Maundy service has taken place in Sheffield, and Her Majesty’s first visit to the city since she opened the University of Sheffield’s Motor Neurone Disease centre in 2010.
Road closures will be in place from 7am until 3pm, and safety barriers will also be in place in the city centre. Following the service, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will attend a civic lunch at Sheffield Town Hall.
The Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Coun Peter Rippon, said: “I am sure that the people of Sheffield will give the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh a warm and enthusiastic Yorkshire welcome.”
The first to arrive, at 6.40am, was 71-year-old Hazel Wright, from Ecclesall.
Mrs Wright, a member of the choir at All Saints Church in Ecclesall, said she has waited all her life to see a member of the Royal Family.
Mrs Wright said: “I am very excited to be here because I have never seen the Queen or any member of the Royal Family before, so I thought I had better get up early and get my place.
“I got up at 5am but it was worth it to be able to get so close to the cathedral to get a good view of her.”
Isabelle Sheriff, 18, from Elsecar, Barnsley, was one of the first spectators to arrive.
The Longley Park Sixth Firm Centre student said: “I only found out about the visit at 11pm last night when my sister told me the Queen was coming so it was all a bit last minute but I decided to get up early to try and see her, and left home at 5.10am.
“It’s easier than going all the way to London.”
Crowd control barriers have been placed around both venues and along Fargate, where thousands are expected to gather to catch a glimpse of the Royal party.
Police officers are out in force around the city, forming a cordon around the cathedral and lining the route the Royal visitors will take.
Trams and buses are not running along High Street for the duration of the visit.
Julia McCarthy-Fox, 50, her friend Jim Fairman, 69 and Julia’s Godson Charlie, four, travelled from Sussex for a glimpse of the Royal party.
“We go to quite a few Maundy Thursday services and we go and see the Queen a lot,” said Julia,
“I think if you’re going to do it, you’ve got to do it properly.”
Anne and Peter Grant, from, Hillsborough, arrived at the cathedral at 8am.
Mrs Grant, 57, said: “It’s the first time I’ll have seen the Queen but Peter worked for the river police in London for 31 years so he’s seen her a fair few times.
“I think it’s a great occasion. People don’t realise the significance of the occasion which is a shame really. I just think people don’t appreciate how special this is.”
Inside the service, each of the recipients of Royal Maundy received two leather purses. The red one contained a £5 coin commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill and a 50p coin marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The white purse was filled with the Maundy coins.
The one, two, three and four pence coins are all legal tender, but the specially made silver coins are not intended for everyday use.
Unlike those in general circulation, the Royal Maundy coins continue to bear the portrait of the Queen produced by Mary Gillick for the first coins of her reign.
The portrait of the Queen wearing a wreath on her head was considered to reflect the nation’s optimism as it greeted a new monarch in the post-war years.
The Royal Maundy is an ancient ceremony which has its origin in the commandment Christ gave after washing the feet of his disciples the day before Good Friday.
The Mint said it seems to have been the custom as early as the 13th century for members of the royal family to take part in Maundy ceremonies.
Among those to receive the Maundy coins were D-Day veteran Denis Gratton, 91, from Sheffield.
He said: “It was just quick. I’m not very good at hearing. She did say something but I’m not sure what it were.”
Patricia Durkin, 72, said: “It was brilliant, absolutely wonderful. When I got here the atmosphere was tremendous.”
Following the service, the Queen and Prince Philip were flanked by members of the King’s Bodyguard of the Yeoman of the Guard, in full red uniform.
Members of the 148 Barnsley Squadron Air Cadets, who had earlier formed a guard of honour on the Queen’s arrival, again stood outside the cathedral.
Watching with pride was Susan Richmond, who son Samuel, 14, was taking part. He began the day assisting at the Meadowhall tram station before forming the guard of honour.
She said: “I’m very proud of him. He was a little bit nervous but he was full of smiles.”
The Queen collected flowers from children before driving to Sheffield Town Hall, where the Royal couple were due to have lunch with civic dignitaries and invited guests.
The crowd burst into spontaneous applause as the couple waved as they drove away from the Cathedral.
Outside the Town Hall large crowds greeted the couple once again, including Claire Rose, 31, of Sheffield, and her sons Benjamin, nine and Joshua, eight.
Mrs Rose, a former forces’ medic, met the Queen in 2003 at a remembrance service for those who died in the Iraq War.
She said: “I’ve met the Queen before and wanted the boys to see her, It’s nice for the children to know about their heritage.”
Many of those outside Sheffield Cathedral were members of the same church as those chosen to receive the Royal Maundy.
David Hopkin, rector of Penistone Church, nominated deputy church warden Fred Etherington, 77, of Penistone.
Mr Hopkin said: “Fred has done a lot of work over the years for the church and very much deserved it. He takes tours to Belgium and France to visit war graves, and that is why he was chosen. He not only takes tours, but comes back and speaks to children in schools and his experiences.
“We’re very proud of him, and just wish we could be in there with him.”
Also from Penistone Church was Margaret Rothwell of Holmfirth. She was also in the crowds when the Queen distributed the Royal Maundy at Wakefield Cathedral in 2005.
She said: “I am a royalist and very happy to be here.”
Jan Travis, a member of St Peter and St Paul’s Church, in Barnby Dun, Doncaster, come to see two of her church members receive the coins.
She said: “The Queen looked lovely, and we saw the people we know go in.”
Pamela Hodgson, from Beauchief Abbey church in Sheffield, came along as a retired canon minister from the Abbey, Trevor Page, was among the recipients.
She said: “It’s wonderful to be here to celebrate the Queen, in her 89th years. We saw her very briefly and we’re looking forward to seeing the Maundy Money when our friends come out.”
The crowds were full of families, many grandparents who brought their grandchildren to witness the event.
Kent and Victoria Holroyd, of Hackenthorpe, brought their six-year-old daughter Poppy along.
At the age of nine, Mr Holroyd had waited for eight hours in the pouring rain to see the Queen when she visited the city in 1978, and wanted his daughter to have the same experience.
“I think it is great that the royal family are growing in popularity again,” he said. “We can rely on them, they are always there, steadfast. She’s brilliant, the Queen.”
Kelly and Matthew Wooller from Dronfield brought their 20-month son Alex and neighbour Eden Kus, six, who were waving Union flags.
Alex was born on the same day as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s son, Prince George in July 2013.
Mrs Wooller said: “We feel we have a royal connection now, with Alex and George being born on the same day. We want him to enjoy it, and be able to look back on the day.”
Margaret and Peter Marsh from Woodseats came along with granddaughters Emily, seven, and Daisy, four.
Mr Marsh first saw the Queen outside Sheffield Wednesday’s football ground in the 1950s.
He said: “When you have grandchildren, you see the life through their eyes. It’s something for them to remember.”
Mrs Marsh likened the atmosphere to that of the Olympic Torch relay, which the couple witnessed in a soggy Dorset while on holiday.
She added: “This has been a great opportunity for the grandchildren.”
Police cancelled holidays to ensure there were enough officers on duty today. They also drafted in officers from others forces to boost numbers.
Chief Superintendent David Hartley, District Commander for Sheffield, said: “We are currently unable to put a figure on the cost of today’s policing operation; this will take some time to work out.
“As we have known about the Royal visit for some time, we have been able to plan in advance to ensure the cost to South Yorkshire Police is kept to a minimum.
“We have achieved this by cancelling weekly leave and rest days and utilising as many of our own resources as possible, including volunteer special constables.
“Mutual aid from other forces and specialist search functions will have a cost implication but it is important to recognise this is a wonderful event for the city and we are proud to host the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.”